A Christmas Miracle
by Mel Moser
circa December 1996

A picture perfect Christmas Eve, Nat thought to herself as she looked
around at the magical night around her. The Christmas Eve service had
been beautiful and now as she walked home beside Nick, her only regret was
that Nick hadn't joined her at the beautiful ceremony. While Nick liked
Christmas, he still felt uncomfortable being in a place of religious
significance on such a holy night.

But her heart was lifted by the fact that they were together now. The
city of Toronto had been given the gift of a white Christmas now evident
in the snow-covered world that surrounded them as they walked down
another street. Nat was glad that Nick had suggested they walk home and
enjoy this peaceful, glorious night together. After a quick stop for a
cup of hot chocolate at a nearby cafe, they strolled through the silent,
snow-covered streets slowly making their way home.

"It's so beautiful out tonight." Nat smiled as she held her hand out to
catch some of the many big snowflakes that were falling all around them.
It was cold, but her down-lined coat and gloves kept her warm, as well as
the warmth of being with Nick, who had been entertaining her with humorous
stories of Christmas past and tidbits about traditions of old.

"So, Christmas carols were actually dances back when you were young?" Nat
paused as she considered this new tidbit of information.

"Yes." Nick heard the amusement in her voice. It was good to see Nat in
such a cheerful mood. They were passing through a quiet part of town, even
more so on a night like Christmas Eve.

"Then, shall we dance, Monsieur? A Christmas dance?" Natalie jumped in
front of him and smiled, holding out her hands to Nick. It was Christmas
and she was feeling a bit spontaneous.

Nick stopped and looked down at her, watching the snowflakes landing on her
nose and tangling in her long chestnut curls. She looked so adorable and
tempting. Her good mood was contagious.

"Oui, mademoiselle." He took and kissed the back of one of her gloved
hands, and taking her hands in his bare ones, he led her in a waltz there
amongst the falling snow, the blanket of white beneath their feet their
dance floor, the empty, silent streets their audience.

Nick whirled her about the snow, easily leading their steps as they
danced. Nat smiled up at him, her eyes full of laughter. Nick was a
great dancer she discovered and wished she had known it sooner.

He twirled her about, letting her spiral out away from him, his strong hand
still holding hers, only to reel her back towards him again, neatly catching
her right into his waiting arms. Nick slowly tilted her back, easily
holding her, his face drawing near to hers. Nat looked up into his blue
eyes and found joy and laughter reflected there. And something more. It
took her breath away. Was that her heart pounding in her chest?

She barely remembered thinking about how handsome he looked before she saw
him close his eyes and begin lowering his lips down towards hers. Her own
eyes closed in anticipation of the kiss to come.

"Help! Anyone?" A shout echoed down the nearby alley.

Nick had been so preoccupied, he hadn't sensed the approaching figure
until it was nearly upon them. He paused and looked up.

A man staggered out of the nearby alley and looked around. There was a
frantic expression on his face and he was breathing heavily as if he had
been running. He caught sight of Nick and Nat and an expression of relief
crossed his face. "Thank God, " he exclaimed and began stumbling towards

Nick set Nat rather abruptly back on her feet and stepped protectively
in front of her.

"Please. I need your help." The man pleaded. This close, Nick noted
that the young man appeared to be in his twenties and his coat and clothes
were old and ragged.

When Nick didn't answer right away, the man took a deep breath and
continued. "Please. My wife." He motion over his shoulder, behind him.
"Car broke down and she's in labor."

The man nearly lost them in his frenzied hurry to return to his wife.
As he disappeared into the night of calling snow, it was only by
Nick using his special tracking abilities that they were able to
follow his trail through the alleys and falling snow. Coming around
a corner, they found him. No, found them. Covered with several
inches of newly fallen snow, Nick and Nat watched as he opened the car
door, revealing his very pregnant wife, who was unmistakably in labor.
Her body wrapped up in a poor excuse for a jacket, but her body was
covered in sweat, her hair matted against her forehead. Her teeth
chattered with the chill, though the inside of the windows of the old
car were covered with mist.

"Mara, I'm here.. I'm back... and I brought help." the man told his wife.

"Joey-" she began to respond, but suddenly another contraction ripped
through her and she cried out. The man stiffened in fear and looked at
Nick and Nat.

"How far apart are the contractions?" Nat gently pushed the man the
woman had called Joey out of the way, looking at her watch, and then feeling
Mara's wrist for a pulse. Through her moans of pain, Nat could hear
Mara trying to follow the breathing relaxation techniques commonly taught
at childbirth classes.

"When I left, they were coming every five minutes." Joey responded.
"But that was over 15 minutes ago." He studied Nat a little more
closely. "Are you a doctor?" He asked, a hopeful look in his eyes.

Nick and Nat exchanged a quick glance. "Of a sorts." Nat replied.
Better not to tell him that all her patients were dead. Or mostly
dead if you included vampires.

The hesitancy went over the man's head, who was obviously more
concerned for his wife. Nat finished taking her pulse, which was rapid,
but not alarming. She tried to soothe the woman and make her more
comfortable as the pain continued to wrack her body.

"Two.... two min-" Mara at last tried to reply between clenched
teeth. The pain of the contraction was beginning to subside and she
began to relax, only to begin shivering again.

"Two minutes?" Nat raised her eyebrow in alarm. "And your water has
already broke?"

"Y-Yes." Mara nodded and continued to shake. Joey took off his coat
and crowded Nat in the door as he covered his wife with it. She grasped
the thin coat against her and smiled weakly at her husband.

"Nat, I should get her to a hospital." Nick interrupted from behind them,
knowing he could get her there fast if need be.

"I'm not sure if there's time, Nick." She quickly glanced up at him, her
face full of worry, then looked back at the car. The car was an old two
door model with little space. Mara, though a small woman, was even cramped
for space in the passengers seat. No, this was not the place to be
delivering a baby. Mara pulled the coat tighter around her.

"And I don't think she's up to traveling." The poor woman was chilled
to the bone. Nat doubted she could handle a cold flight through the
winter night. "We should call an ambulance and take her to someplace warm,
if there is such a place around here."

Nat looked around them. The area was in a rundown part of town. She hadn't
been paying much attention where they were walking, feeling safe with Nick
to guide and protect her. The area they were in seemed quiet and abandoned,
but it was cold. In other words, it was no place to be delivering a baby.
Not that she was planning on it. They might have enough time for an
ambulance to get her to the hospital, if they hurried.

"Please? Help us?" Joey pleaded, clutching Nat's arm. Nick moved towards
him, worried but Nat shook her head and let Joey continue. "It's our first.
Not due for another two weeks, but we were hoping to make it home for

"We'll do our best." Nat assured him and touched his hand. She noticed that
Joey was rapidly becoming cold too now that his coat was gone. But there
was something special about this couple. Nat wasn't sure how she knew it.
Maybe it was just the magic of this holiday eve. Nat brushed the thought
off, there wasn't any time to be pondering about such things.

"I'll be right back." Nick walked a few steps away, and after making sure
Joey and Mara couldn't see, he took the the air, his feet leaving the
ground and the air rushing around him as he soared up above the buildings
and landscape. The world below looked beautiful from above, the snow
covering everything in white, the wind swirling it about in magical
clouds of white.

But over there, only a few blocks away, he saw a faint light glowing
in the darkness and whiteness of the blowing snow. He flew closer.
It was a church, white on the outside with stained glass windows. Lights
had been left on in the sanctuary and outside, as if the church had
been left open for late night worshippers. Nick flinched a little
as he noticed the bright cross at the top of the steeple. Not his
preference, but it looked safe and warm.

Nat was asking Mara for details about the pregnancy when Nick landed
behind the trio by the car. In that moment, Nick was more proud of
her than ever before, knowing that practicing medicine on live people was
not her speciality, he knew she was trying her best to help the young
couple. But she knew enough, and most of it likely instinctive. Nat
stood up close to him as he walked up.

"The baby is breach, Nick." Nat told him softly. "She needs a real
doctor. I'm not sure if I can do-"

"Nat, you're doing just fine now. Just keep it up." Nick reassured
her. But he saw the worry in her eyes. He pulled out his cell phone
and called for an ambulance.

Fortunately, the doors of the church had been open as they staggered inside
out of the cold and blowing snow. Nick, carrying Mara in his arms, trembled
a moment in the vestibule, but didn't let that slow him as he carried her
towards the altar.

The smell of incense, candles, and warmth filled the air of the church,
leftover from a Christmas Eve service earlier that night, no doubt.
Poinsettias, holly and ivy adorned the sanctuary. A beautifully decorated
Christmas tree, complete with glowing lights, stood in the corner, and
towards the front, to the side of the altar, a full set of the Nativity
scene remained, most likely from a Christmas cantata or an re-enactment of
the Christmas story from earlier that night. And on the altar, an opened
Bible accompanied by two candles that still burned bright in the dimness
of the room. The lights had been turned down low, making the room dim but
the spotlights on the Nativity scene reminded one of the holiness of the
season and night.

Nat smiled at the irony as she watched Nick lay Mara down on the straw in
the manger scene. Not the best in comfort, but it would have to do. She
starting tearing down the sheets from the display. They would work as
blankets and to help protect them from the scratchiness of the straw.

No sooner had Nick set her down then Mara cried out as another contraction
hit her. Nat checked her watch. Sure enough, two minutes had passed
from the time of the last one. Nat hoped the ambulance arrived soon.
Nick backed away and let Nat help settle the expectant mother.

Joey tried to hold his wife in his arms to comfort her, but she pushed
him away. Instead, he stood over his wife and looked confused about what
to do. "Shouldn't we be doing something? Like boiling water?"

Nat smiled up at him as she kept an eye on her patient. "No, I think
you've been watching too much TV. That's something they tell fathers to
do to keep them busy. I think we'll be okay until the ambulance gets here."
She cast a concerned look over to Nick, who had backed away and was busy
shying away from the crosses on the altar, which fortunately, neither
Joey or Mara noticed. Nat said a small prayer of thanks that the
church was quiet warm as she watched Nick remove his coat cover the
crosses with it.

Removing her own coat, Nat covered Mara with the blankets and waited for
the contraction to subside and then proceeded to examine her. As far as
she could tell, which wasn't much, everything looked okay. She was almost
fully dilated, but Nat wasn't sure what else to check. She hadn't really
studied much about childbirth in school. So, she really wasn't sure how
the baby was, and wished she had her stethoscope.

Damn it, Nat. You don't know anything about birthing babies, she reminded
herself. The best she could do is keep Mara comfortable and monitor the
labor. She looked up at Nick again and saw him looking oddly at the
Nativity scene, running one of his hands down the wood of the empty manger.

"I don't know what to do..." Joey interrupted, his thoughts almost echoing
Nat's own. His expression was pained as he looked up to Nat for guidance
and reassurance. Mara was refusing to look at her husband, lying there
with her eyes closed, but had let him hold her hand at least. But his
hands were shaking and his voice sounded strained.

"Huh? Oh." Nat's attention returned to Joey and Mara. They needed her
to be strong and confident. No time for self-doubt now. She needed Joey
to be calm. His fear was upsetting Mara, who was distracted enough as it
was. "You could sing?" Nat suggested the first thing that came to mind.

"Sing?" Joey replied.

Nat looked over at the Christmas tree for a second. "It is Christmas
eve, isn't it?" Nat started ripping the blankets up into smaller
pieces just in case they needed them.

Mara nodded. "Sing, Joey. For me?" She clutched her husband's hand and
looked up into his eyes.

Joey smiled and explained. "Mara loves Christmas. We were hoping to make
it to a service tonight, but, " he looked down at his wife, "other things

"Well, soon you'll have the best Christmas gift ever." Nat promised,
laying her hand on Mara's stomach.

They had already sang "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" and "Joy to the World"
and still there were no signs of the ambulance. The singing, however,
helped to calm both Joey and Mara, even through another couple contractions.
Nat had joined Joey's fine tenor singing voice, her passable alto voice
blended nicely with his. By the window keeping watch for the ambulance,
Nick had remained silent for the past several minutes.

They took a little break from the singing while Mara had another
Nat checked her pulse again and felt her swollen belly. Everything seemed to
be okay, but she sure wished that ambulance would get here.

"You know," Joey began, his voice a bit less stressed than before. "We
don't even know your names. Are you two married?"

Nat looked a bit uncomfortable, but it passed. "No. I'm Natalie Lambert."
When Nick didn't respond in kind, she answered for him. "And he is Nick

"Nick? As in St. Nick?" Joey joked. "How appropriate. Both of you are
saints for helping us tonight."

Nat blushed. Nick looked back over his shoulder at them, but didn't

"How can we ever thank you enough?" Joey took Nat's hand and gently
squeezed it.

Nat gave him a slight smile. "Your well being is thanks enough." Nat
handed him another clean cloth to wipe the sweat from Mara's brow.

After the contraction passed, Nat examined Mara once again, then
arose and went to stand behind Nick, who was still looking out the

"Nick, I'm worried about the baby." Nat said to him softly, laying
a hand on his shoulder. She felt the slight flexing of his muscles
in response to her touch. "Everything looks ok, but it's hard to
tell for sure without the right equipment."

Nick turned and saw the concern in her face. He placed his hands on her
shoulders and felt her warmth beneath his hands and was strengthened by
it. He closed his eyes and concentrated. In front of him, he could smell
Nat's familiar scent, the light flowery scent of her perfume and the heady
delicious smell of her blood, the gentle beating of her achingly familiar
heart. He mentally tore himself away from it and cast his focus across
the room where he could sense the cadences of both Joey's and Mara's
heartbeats. And searching more, concentrating a little harder, he heard it.
The soft quiet beat of the unborn child's heart. It was strong but hushed,
but he heard it. It was beautiful, the light beat of a new life waiting
to be born.

"The baby is fine, Nat." He opened his eyes and smiled down at her.

There was a beep in Nick's shirt pocket. Nick pulled his cell phone
out of his pocket and answered. "Knight." There was a pause.

"What do you mean you can find the place? I gave you the street address?"
Nick's voice was strained as he nearly shouted into the phone. He listened
for a long second and started again. "It's not on the maps? It's a church.
Steeple, stained glass windows. You can't miss it." He clicked the cell
phone shut and dropped it into his pocket.

Too late, he caught the flash of concern and uncertainty on Nat's face
before she turned to look at Joey and Mara.

"Nat-" Nick began, but was interrupted by a cry from across the room.

"Oh... it's coming!" Mara exclaimed as another contraction began to
wrack her body. "The baby!"

"Nick!" Nat exclaimed. "The baby is coming... head first. It's not
breech." She had rushed over to Mara at her outburst that the baby was on
its way only to be horrified to discover it was true. Nat could see the
baby crowning. Mara had told her earlier that the doctors had said the baby
was breech, but thankfully, they must have been wrong. This would make the
birth easier. The contraction quickly subsided and Mara continued to breath
heavily, her body covered in sweat.

"Nat, the ambulance should be here soon." She barely heard Nick talking
behind her.

"The baby is coming now, Nick. There's no time." Nat snapped.

"Then Nat," Nick crouched down behind her. "it looks like it's up to me and
you, and you're the one who's the doctor."

"What can we do?" Joey suddenly lost all his prior calmness and was panicky

"What?" Nat looked at him in confusion as the doubts plagued her mind. But
she felt Nick's reassuring hand on her shoulders and the brush of his lips
against her temple.

"Nat, you can do this." Nick said softly as if reading her mind. "I have
faith in you."

There was something hauntingly familiar about his words, but she couldn't
remember why. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath to calm herself.
Saying a quick prayer, she opened her eyes and set to work. There was a
baby to be born.

"Joey, take Mara in your lap and help hold her shoulders when she bears down
at the next contraction." Nat ordered. "Nick, get ready those blankets and
find some string." While her helpers were busy, Nat began to prop up and
position Mara's legs in preparation for the ordeal to come.

They were ready by the time the next contraction began a few seconds later.
At least they thought they were. The reality of the situation hit Nat
with a rush as she readied the blankets to catch the baby. She was about
to help deliver a baby. Mara cried out in pain. It was now or never,
Nat told herself and took a deep breath.

"All right, Mara" Nat commended. "Push!" She gently held the baby's
head as it exited the womb to keep it from being delivered too quickly.
That was at least one thing she remembered from med school, or was
it from TV? She couldn't remember.

Mara stopped pushing. "No!" Mara shook her head. "Can't... too tired."

Nat looked up in concern. The poor woman looked beyond exhaustion, most
likely from the labor as well as being exposed to the cold for too long.
Then she heard Nick's sultry voice next to her. "Mara, you can do it.
Forget about the pain. Focus on pushing." Nat saw Mara looking up
at Nick.

Mara blinked and nodded. "Forget the pain. Focus." Joey wiped away
the sweat from her brow with one of the cloths and continued to hold her
against him.

The next contraction hit. Mara bore down and miraculously rose above the
pain and found the strength to continue bringing the baby into the world.
As Nat shouted words of encouragement, she worried for a moment about Nick
being too close as even she smelled the scent of warm blood and body fluids
rushing over her hands, but she pushed that concern away as she began to feel
the baby filling her hands.

"That's it!" Nat shouted in encouragement. "You're doing great, Mara. Keep
it up! Another couple pushes and it's all over." Nat gently rotated the
baby slightly in preparation for the shoulders to emerge.

Another contraction and series of pushes later, the tiny baby made its entry
into the world and into life. The baby began to utter its first cries, loud
wails that gave evidence of a healthy set of lungs. Nat began to cry as the
warmth and wetness of the newborn babe continued to scream and kick with life
in her hands.

"It's a boy!" She half-shouted, half-sobbed as she glanced up at the proud
new parents. Taking the blankets that Nick was now pushing into her hands,
she began to wipe the baby off, briskly but lightly drying the skin and
wiping away the mucus from his mouth and nose to help him breath. But he
didn't need much help there as his cries continued to echo around the empty

"Nick, I need the string. " Nat felt something being placed in her hand and
looked. "Shoelaces?" she asked.

"It was all I could find." Nick replied and a few seconds later, he was
shocked as Nat placed the still crying and squirming baby into his arms.
"Uh, Nat..." Nat had wrapped the baby up in several of the thick clothes,
but he could still feel its warmth and life in his hands.

"Hold him while I finish up here, Nick." Nat ordered and chuckled at his
discomfort. Just like any typical male, Nick looked a little astonished
at the feel of such a fragile little bundle in his hands. "You're doing
fine." Nick had naturally folded his arms and hands to cradle the baby
against his chest.

"The baby?" Joey asked. He had been busy comforting Mara and sharing
in her tears of joy.

"He is just fine." Nat glanced up at Joey and Mara as she finished cleaning
up. "And looks healthy and strong." The baby was still squirming and
kicking but slowly began to calm in the comfort of Nick's arms. Nat was
held spellbound as she noticed the gentle expression on Nick's face as he
stared down at the new little boy.

"He's beautiful." Nick said quietly as he returned the baby back to Nat's
open arms. The baby had quieted and was beginning to look around at the new
world around him.

"That he is." Nat agreed as she gave him a quick medical check. The baby's
color was good and heart rate and breathing strong. But somewhere in the
deep blues of baby's eyes, the baby softness of his skin, the clutch of his
tiny fingers around her finger, Nat lost herself for a moment. She looked up
to find Nick silently watching her, his expression unreadable.

While only moments had passed since the baby had been born, it seemed far too
short a time for Nat to hold the warm bundle in her arms. Reluctantly, she
handed the little baby over to his happy and relieved parents. But as she
did so, Joey reached out before Nat could away and gently touched her cheek.

"God bless you." Joey murmur red. "Both of you." He smiled up at Nick
too before turning back to look at his wife and new son.

Nat watched Nick look up at the large cross over the altar then quietly
get up and walk away.

"Are you feeling okay?" Nat asked Nick, worried about his prolonged stay
in the church. "You've been in here a while." She had walked up behind
him where he stood looking pensively out the window again.

Nick didn't answer right away as he turned around to look up at the huge
stained glass window in the rear of the church. It was a beautiful piece of
work depicting the life of Christ, the centerpiece a picture of the baby
Jesus in a manger with the heavenly lights streaming down from above. Nick
reflected on how appropriate it was on a night like tonight. Moonlight from
outside shined through the glass, highlighting its myriad of colors.
Bordering the centerpiece were small religious pictures and symbols,
including crosses. "It's not the church itself that bothers us, Nat, but
the things in it." He sighed.

Nat laid an understanding hand on his shoulder. "Well, we're making
progress on fixing that, right?"

Nick didn't answer but after a few long seconds, he turned to look at Nat
then over at the new family huddled together, a look of longing on his face.
"Sometimes, I don't know, Nat."

"It's Christmas, Nick. A time for thinking good thoughts and a time when
amazing things can happen." Nat nodded towards where the healthy newborn
baby was being cooed to by his new parents. "Let's keep thinking those good
thoughts and worry about New Years resolutions later." Nat grinned up at him.

Nick looked at her and saw the hope and love shining in her eyes. Smiling
back, he opened his arms and pulled her into a long, warm hug.

The lights on the Christmas tree continued to glow. The snow had tapered off
outside and the moon was starting to peek out from behind the clouds, its
glow shining through the stained glass windows. The sanctuary was warm
and quiet. And for that moment, all was right in the world.

The sound of sirens was heard in the distance.

* * * * * * * * *

"You wanna a ride home?" The paramedic finished closing the ambulance
doors, turned around and extended his gloved hand to Nick. "We can give you
a lift home after we stop by the hospital."

Nick shook his hand and glanced at Nat who shook her head. The paramedics
had finally arrived and had been surprised to discover that the father,
and new baby were all doing well. After declaring the baby and mother healthy
warm and fit to travel, the medics had quickly bundled Mara and her new son
and escorted the new family into the ambulance. They had complimented Nat so
much on a job well done, her cheeks were red from blushing.

"No, thanks. We'll be ok." Nick replied. It wasn't that far of a walk
home and he was eager to be away from other people for awhile and especially
to be alone with Nat on this special evening.

"Ok. If you're sure?" he asked again.

"Yeah." Nick patted the man on the shoulder as they walked to the drivers
side of the vehicle. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas to you too. Both of you. It's nice to know there's
helpful people like you still out there." He climbed into the ambulance
and drove off, the picture of the new family framed in the rear windows
of the back doors. Nick put his arm around Nat as they watched the red
and white flashing lights disappear into the night.

Nick kissed Nat gently against her temple. "How about some more hot
chocolate, Doctor?"

The late-night cafe was still open by the time Nick and Nat arrived for the
second time that night. Nick opened the door and escorted Nat inside. It
was nearly empty, especially at this late hour. The elderly couple that
owned the place were still there and greeted them as they entered.

"Back again?" The older woman asked, adjusting her spectacles on her nose.
"I hope everything is okay?"

"Yes. Fine. Just a little cold." Nat opened her coat and let the warmth
of the room begin to seep into her weary bones. Nick escorted her to
a booth and ordered another cup of hot chocolate for her.

The old gentleman looked up from the newspaper he had been reading to
glance at them curiously. "Ya didn't happen to see where the ambulance went
to that came by here earlier, did ya?" he asked. "Shame to have something
bad happen to anyone on Christmas Eve."

"As a matter of fact, we did." Nick replied and sat down across from
Nat in the booth. He briefly described their Christmas Eve encounter and
the birth of the new baby, and mentioning Nat's role in the miraculous
event enough times to keep her blushing all over again. He finished up
the tale telling how beautiful the night had become outside the church and
on their walk back to the cafe.

The old couple listened intently, joining them at the cafe table but made
sure to keep refilling Nat's cup was with hot cocoa and marshmellows. If
they thought it was odd that Nick didn't order anything, they didn't mention
it, but instead nodded along with the story. But towards the end, the old
man's face had gained a puzzled look but he didn't comment. but his wife

"Well, heavens be praised. It's a miracle that you were there to help
them." The old woman patted Nat's hand. "Not too many people are out and
about on a night like this. But they say that miracles do happen at
Christmas. They were very lucky." She smiled warmly.

"Yes, they were. And we were lucky to be there ourselves. It's not often
you get to help bring a new life into the world." Nat smiled suddenly
feeling very sentimental. Her eyes met Nick's across the table.

"Indeed. Not often." Nick's words had more meaning than the older couple
realized, and Nat squeezed his hand in mutual understanding. For someone
who had spent many years killing, it felt especially good to be able to
be a part of helping a new life enter the world. The thought warmed
and touched his heart. He watched Nat try to stifle yet another yawn
"Speaking of being out on a night like this, we really should be going."

"Mmmm." The old woman smiled and as Nick pulled out his wallet to pay,
she shook her head. "No, your wonderful Christmas story is payment
enough. Merry Christmas."

Nick thanked her as he helped Nat put on her coat. As they exited the
cafe, the old man followed and prepared to lock the door behind them.
He had been silent through much of their story and it surprised them
both when he spoke.

"You don't mean that church over on the corner of Pratt and Signet Street,
do you?" he asked. "White with a big stained glass window of the Nativity

"Yes. That's the one." Nick answered, perplexed.

"Son, that church burned down two years ago. On Christmas Eve no less.
You must have been mistaken. But Merry Christmas." The old man finished
locking the door behind them and the cafe went dark.

Nat and Nick just looked at each other, bewildered.

"Just a little farther." Nick said as they retraced their steps back
towards the church. He tried to hurry them, as even he could feel that
the night was growing colder.

Nat shivered briefly in her boots. The skies had cleared and the full
moon was shining bright, reflecting off the snow. But the temperature
had dropped more and as tired as she was, Nat felt the cold beginning to
seep into her bones. "Nick, maybe the old man was just confused." She
watched the mist from her warm breath disappear into the frigid night

"Maybe." Nick replied. "But I want to check."

The world was quiet around them, the only sound was the crunching of the
snow beneath their feet. And for once, as Nat looked over at Nick and
thinking about how little the cold bothered him, she found herself envying
him being a vampire.

They walked a bit further and Nat began to recognize their location. As
they began to round a corner, she saw the broken-down car of the young
couple, now buried beneath the snow. As they drew closer, she could see
the vaque but now mostly filled in tracks that they had made, including
three sets of tracks heading over towards...

Nick must have seen it at the same time as she, for they both stopped and
stood there staring, their mouths hanging open in shock.

The spot were the church had been standing earlier that evening was nothing
more than a pile of snow-covered rubble. There was no sign of the warm,
white church that they had been in just over an hour ago. A heavy layer of
snow lay over the remains of the church that had been there before, the
covering of snow looked as if it hadn't been disturbed all night. And here
and there, contrasting with the whiteness of the snow, black-burnt beams from
what used to be a church could be seen.

"Nick... I-" Nat began.

"I know, Nat. I don't believe it either." Nick still held her hand as they
followed the tracks towards the church steps, which were still covered,
again untouched, by snow. There were tire ruts and other more recent
indentations in the snow that was proof that the ambulance indeed had been
there, but the church, or what was left of it, looked like it hadn't been
disturbed in years.

"It was here, Nick. Wasn't it?" Nat was incredulous. She looked around
at the landmarks, then pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming.

Nick crouched down and brushed the snow away off of one of the steps of the
old church revealing a few shards of the stained glass window. He carefully
picked up a piece and held it up to the moonlight and watched the golden
hazy light it projected. It looked like a piece of the window from the
Nativity scene. "Yes, it was. Or at least we thought it was."

Dropping the piece among the other remains of the church, Nick stood up and
wrapped his arms around her to hold her as they both stood staring out over
the spot where the church had been.

"But-" Nat protested only to be silenced by a kiss against her brow

"Shhh." Nick whispered. "Let's not question it, shall we?"

Nat relented and the world suddenly became cold and quiet around them
once more. The sky was clear and the full moon was shining bright,
reflecting off the snow. The night sky was full of brilliant stars,
including one brightly shining in the east. It was a beautiful Christmas
eve night. A night for miracles.

Nick gently turned her around in his arms. His blue eyes were filled
with wonder, joy and love as he looked so deeply into her own eyes that Nat
blushed and nearly looked away. But he softly whispered, "Merry Christmas,
Nat." His lips lowered to meet hers in a slow, tender kiss.

Nat sighed contendedly to herself as she wrapped her arms around his neck
and kissed him back, settling into the warmth of the kiss. Warmth? Was it
just her imagination or were Nick's lips and breath warm against her skin?

The kiss quickly deepened into a long, passionate kiss that took Nat's
breath away and warmed her all the way down to her toes.

'Miracles do happen at Christmas,' The old woman's words echoed in her

A star twinkled brightly in the east.